Florida has so many treasures, some of which are imbedded in my memory like old photographs. The sunsets, smell of orange blossoms, the quiet swaying of pine trees, an afternoon rainstorm, a pink roseatte spoonbill in flight or even the chance sight of a night-blooming cereus.
“Real” Florida is everywhere we turn. The stillness of a kayak ride through a Florida mangrove tunnel, a swim in the world’s deepest fresh water spring, a swamp walk through the Big Cypress, horse riding on a real cracker cattle ranch, scalloping on the Nature Coast, diving for lobster in the Florida Keys, or hiking through the towering pine flatwoods of Ocala National Forest.
Besides discovering Florida, I love to live “Florida” in all I do. My kitchen bustles with delightful dishes of Florida Roasted Shrimp Salad, a Tomato-Mozzarella Tart, fresh Key Lime Pie, Orange Cream Pie, freshly caught Florida fish, stone crab and clams and everything in between.
I relish my time in my garden growing and creating a yard that looks and feels like Florida. I enjoy curling up with inviting Florida books written by local writers and I love art and artists who remind me of the state’s beauty. I also love exercising in the Florida outdoors – hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking or even some yoga on the beach. Add to that a curious appreciation of Florida homes that incorporate old (and new) ideas while visiting authentic communities and neighborhoods.
Authentic Florida – for me it is a way of being, a way of life, and a source of inspiration. It’s my home, maybe it’s yours too. So, consider this your personal invitation to join me as we continue our journey together.
Robin Draper is a Florida native. She grew up on a barrier island off of Florida’s West Coast – playing in the Gulf of Mexico and building sandcastles in the powdery white sand. Mangroves became her playground, pine trees and sea grapes were her shady getaway. She fell in love with nature and relished starry nights and afternoon hikes.
Family trips took her all over her home state – to Central Florida’s crystal clear springs, to the hills and rivers of the Panhandle, to wide endless ribbons of Atlantic beaches, to coral reefs in the Florida Keys, through the saw grass and cypress of the Everglades, and to mom-and-pop motels in small towns near the many roadside tourist attractions.
All of these places and experiences made an indelible mark on her soul, creating a passion and love for Florida. After college she spent two years in the Peace Corps on a remote island in Micronesia. Then she married and moved to California and pursued a professional career as a fundraising executive. She was away for twenty years. But something deeply rooted in her soul longed for the magical moments of her youth. Visions of Florida crept into her dreams.
She visited “home” when she could and knew that someday she would return forever to the people and places she loved and would recapture the absolute bliss of her Florida life. Robin finally returned to Florida. In 2011 she created Authentic Florida as an avenue to her past, and as a path to discovering new treasures. Authentic Florida is her heartfelt creation and homage to the land she loves.
She describes Authentic Florida as “simple and delightful pleasures for Florida living” and shares her journeys through a blog and articles on the website, in an e-newsletter and by connecting through social media.
Draper has been recognized with awards from Gotta Get Blogging, the statewide Florida Bloggers Conference, for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Food Blog” plus the overall "Blog of the Year" presented during the forum’s Sunshine Awards. Draper also received the Best of Conference Award for outstanding work from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association.
Robin personally experiences every adventure recommended in her blog. She also cooks every recipe listed on Authentic Florida, detailing a step-by-step approach. Her Authentic Florida columns, articles and blogs are regularly featured in Florida Today (USA Today), Edible Orlando, Edible Sarasota, Harbor Style Magazine, Sarasota Magazine and Visit Sarasota's website. Draper is a featured speaker throughout the state at tourism events highlighting Florida travel and living.
Robin is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Board Member, Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA), Florida Bloggers Conference and is a Master Gardener.